Springfield-Greene County Health Department Releases Recommendations for Winter Sports & Activities

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department has issued recommendations for winter sports and activities to help protect participants from COVID-19 infection.

SGCHD officials say a quick way to remember suggestions is to learn the three “Ws”:

  • watch your distance by staying six feet away from others when at all possible,
  • wear a mask when not actively playing in a game and when around other people, and
  • wash your hands often or make sure hand sanitizer is accessible

Here is a part of the information that is available on the health department’s website under the “Play Safely” heading:

Overview:

The COVID-19 Toolkit for Organized Sports and Activities was created by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department as a guide to help your sports team or facility reduce the spread of COVID-19 during athletic events and organized activities.

According to the CDC, sports that require physical contact or close interaction, are played indoors, and share equipment may pose a greater risk for COVID-19 infection or transmission. More frequent, longer and closer interactions equal higher risk. Coaches should adhere to strict precautions to not only mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 but limit their players’ risk of a potential quarantine that would remove them completely from the competition setting for 14 days.

Sports can be classified into three categories: high contact, moderate contact, and low contact. More frequent, longer and closer interactions equal greater risk for COVID-19 infection or transmission. Therefore, low contact sports offer a lower risk for disease transmission where high contact sports offer higher risk.

Breakdown of Contact Sports

  • High contact sports include basketball, wrestling, ice hockey, tackle/flag/touch football, martial arts, rugby, water polo, competitive cheerleading and lacrosse.
  • Moderate contact sports include baseball, softball, dance team, fencing, floor hockey, field hockey, ultimate frisbee, soccer, and volleyball.
  • Low contact sports include swimming, tennis, gymnastics, water skiing, bicycling, canoeing/kayaking, track and field events, golf, horseback riding, skating (ice, in-line, roller), skateboarding, weightlifting, badminton, bowling, golf, fishing, and riflery

Guidance for General Sports and Physical Activities:

  • Screen each team member at the beginning of each practice and before each game for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms. Any individual with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, or any COVID-19 symptoms should be sent home and they should seek testing.
  • Practice physical distancing of six feet in all areas.
    1. This includes among players when they are not actively engaged in play. Space chairs on the sidelines six feet apart for players who are not in the game.
  • If physical distancing is not possible (i.e. contact sports) then all players will be considered close contacts if a player tests positive for COVID-19 and all players will have to quarantine for 14 days. Close contact is defined as closer than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes (cumulatively) OR any physical contact for any length of time.
  • Yelling can increase the spread of COVID-19, so it is highly recommended that staff and coaches not remove their mask when projecting their voice. When not actively coaching, coaches should be a role model and demonstrate to players proper mask wearing.
  • Face coverings must be worn by all spectators over the age of 11, according to current City of Springfield Code, Chapter 58, Article XIII, Section 58-1102
  • Require players to wear face covering while not actively playing (i.e.: on the sideline; during halftime, etc.)
  • Hand sanitizer should be widely available.  Participants, coaches and officials should clean hands frequently.
  • Consider shortening game times and modifying gameplay to minimize contact.
  • Further minimize player contact by eliminating actions such as handshakes, high fives, and team huddles.
  • When traveling outside of city limits, consider other ordinances and regulations in place in neighboring communities as well as their current case count. More cases and lower restrictions will result in a higher risk of potential exposure.  
  • Avoid playing against teams from communities that do not require quarantine for close contacts of positive individuals. Speak directly with opposing sports team prior to competitions to ensure that other participating students are not ill.
  • If the school or organization hosts multiple teams (i.e. freshman, sophomore, junior varsity and varsity) do not intermix members of each team. Keep practice separate and only allow individuals to play in their respective team’s games.
  • Outdoor activities are considered to be lower risk than indoor activities.
  • Ensure indoor spaces are properly ventilated by reviewing recommendations from the EPA and ASHRAE.
  • Water and other drinks should not be shared.
  • Minimize the sharing of equipment.
  • When bus transportation is required, create a seating chart with six feet of space between individuals. Keep as many windows open to allow for best possible ventilation as weather allows. Require individuals to remain masked during travel.
  • Have team members travel to and from away games with members of their own households only.

Guidance for Sporting Facilities:

  • It is especially important that organizations require face masks be worn by all spectators as yelling/cheering for their team can increase the spread of COVID-19. The current ordinance in the City of Springfield requires masking for anyone twelve and older, but it is highly recommended for children between three and eleven as well. Facilities have the ability to adopt stricter guidelines for their guests such as requiring masks be worn by younger spectators and coaching staff.
  • Record attendance of both participants and spectators at each game. Include their name and contact number in case they need to be reached in the event of an exposure.
  • Spectator areas should be clearly marked off to allow for physical distancing between household groups.
  • Designate one-way traffic, where possible. During games, provide one entrance and one exit for spectators. If possible, provide a separate entrance and exit for each individual team’s spectators. Additionally, providing another single entrance and exit for each competing team is ideal.
  • Mark six feet spacing for spectators to wait in line wherever lines may form.
  • Prohibit food in stands/spectator areas. Consuming food and drink requires removal of face coverings which substantially increases the risk of disease transmission.
  • Stagger shifts and schedules for practices and games
  • Close common areas (e.g. breakrooms, meeting rooms, etc.) where athletes and spectators are likely to congregate and interact.
  • Leave adequate time between each practice or events to allow for thorough cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces, equipment and spaces
  • Clean and disinfect each piece of equipment after every use.
  • Consider closing the facility for certain periods during the day for complete cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Provide disinfecting wipes for individuals to wipe down sporting equipment surfaces that are in direct contact with skin (or body) after each use.
  • If possible, screen individuals as they enter the facility.
  • Utilize PA system, staff and volunteers to remind individuals to wear their mask properly and practice physical distancing.
  • When disposable wipes or other disinfecting products are not available, most common household disinfectants such as a 10% bleach solution, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol and most common EPA-registered products that states it kills viruses may be used. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on bottle.
  • Add signage reminding players and spectators to remain masked, practice physical distancing and wash their hands frequently.
  • If possible, screen individuals as they enter the facility.
  • Utilize PA system, staff and volunteers to remind individuals to wear their mask properly and practice physical distancing.
  • When disposable wipes or other disinfecting products are not available, most common household disinfectants such as a 10% bleach solution, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol and most common EPA-registered products that states it kills viruses may be used. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on bottle.
  • Add signage reminding players and spectators to remain masked, practice physical distancing and wash their hands frequently.
  • Role model appropriate mask wearing
  • Consider all other local guidelines of participating teams who may be traveling to your facility. Avoid allowing teams from communities that do not require quarantine for close contacts of positive individuals to participate in competition within your facility.

Guidance for Other Organized Activities:

  • Limit indoor activities and events when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Outdoor gatherings should be limited, and six feet should be maintained between participants/families.
  • Organizations should require face masks be worn by all participants, group leaders and spectators, even when outdoors. The current ordinance in the City of Springfield requires masking for anyone twelve and older, but it is highly recommended for children between three and eleven as well. In group activities where physical distancing is not possible, groups/teams should be kept small and participants should remain in stable groups to reduce the spread of any potential exposures.
  • “Stable” means that the same children are in the same group each time you meet
  • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Limit the use of shared items.
  • Organizations should screen all participants at each meeting for fever COVID-19 symptoms. Any individual with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, or any COVID-19 symptoms should be sent home and they should seek testing.  
  • Record attendance of both participants and spectators at each activity. Include their name and contact number in case they need to be reached in the event of an exposure.
  • For activities and clubs that don’t require in-person interaction, consider meeting virtually.

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